solar yachts

Silent Yachts

Creators of the world’s first series produced, solar-powered electric yachts.

Unlimited Range

Noiseless cruising, zero emission, minimal maintenance, pioneering solar powered yachting since 2009.

Silent yacht with solar panels on the roof in crystal clear water

The Original Solar Yacht

As the original inventors of series produced solar-electric yachts, we pioneered this innovative approach. Our first model, the Silent 64, was launched to the market in 2016, several years before any other shipyard considered the possibility of going electric.

Silent yacht with solar panels on the roof sailing at high speed

Leading Technology

Our founders began to research alternative energy sources to power yachts during the mid 1990s. Today, the technology of our in-house developed solar-electric drivetrain has been perfected and is multiple generations ahead in terms of reliability, performance and efficiency.

historic yacht with solar panels on the roof

Historical Track-Record

In 2009, the Solarwave 46 was launched as our first prototype of a fully solar-electric, self-sufficient ocean-going catamaran. Since then, our electric yachts have cruised many 10.000s of nautical miles, performing flawlessly during a variety of weather conditions.

self-sufficient yacht with solar panels on the roof

Enabling Self-Sufficiency

What differentiates a Silent is the unprecedented level of autonomy provided by our yachts. Being able to produce your own energy enables a fully self-sufficient lifestyle on board. Travel the oceans sustainably while making them your infinite playground.

Solar-paneled yacht navigating the seas using solar energy

The award-winning entry to solar-electric yachts.

80 feet yacht with solar panels on the roof

Timeless design meets state-of-the-art technology.

120 feet luxury yacht with solar panels on the roof

120 Explorer

The boldest expression of solar powered yachting yet.

What Makes Us Unique

yacht with solar panels on the roof anchored in a bay of tuquoise water

The tranquility on board of our yachts is unique. A lack of noise, fumes and vibrations create a deep connection with the sea. Luxury and sustainability finally merged into a holistic experience, working hand in hand with nature by minimizing the impact on the marine environment without compromising comfort.

graphic of the connections between solar panels, batteries and motors of an electric yacht

For optimal performance and efficiency, our solar-electric drivetrain integrates seamlessly with all onboard systems. Compared to fossil fuelled powertrains of motoryachts, electric powertrains have very few moving parts, resulting in minimal maintenance, maximum reliability and significantly lower running costs.

Electric yacht sailing across the open waters with solar energy

The ability to recharge your own batteries with the sun marks a new era of freedom. Depending on cruising speeds and weather conditions, a Silent has virtually unlimited range, enabling you to live a fully self-sufficient lifestyle on board. Unbound by the limitations of fossil fuels, you are free to explore the horizons.


The technology powering our yachts today has been pioneered by our founders almost three decades ago. Continuous upgrading and steady optimization of the entire system are some of the key reasons our in-house developed solar-electric drivetrain offers a comprehensive portfolio of assurances and warranties.

Why Silent Yachts

A sensible approach to yachting which works in self-sufficient harmony with nature and creates a completely new experience on board.

Tech Corner


Why a Solar-Powered Yacht?

Let’s break down the advantages of harnessing the sun’s energy for yacht propulsion: solar power offers remarkable efficiency, significant environmental benefits, and an unmatched synergy with the yachting experience. Join us as we dive into the future of sustainable yachting and discover how solar-powered yachts are revolutionizing the seas.

solar yachts

Why a Solar Powered Yacht?

silent yachts news venice boat show

Silent Yachts’ shining debut at the Venice Boat Show 2024

Silent Yachts

Silent-Yachts emerges stronger under new ownership

solar yachts

New Silent Drivetrain

solar yachts

Tech shorts 2023

solar yachts

Electric power event on the water

“The Tesla of the seas! An amazing founding couple, a highly innovative product as well as a really cool story behind it. Furthermore, a lot of love and attention has been invested into every single detail – truly impressive!” Frank Thelen / TV Personality, Founder, Angel Investor & Disruption Expert
While the present has brought us the dawn of smart cars, I strongly believe the future will bring us solar powered smart boats – and I definitely want to be at the frontline of that journey. Michael Jost / Former Head of Group Strategy of Volkswagen Group
The idea of sailing while charging your own battery is super powerful to me – solar powered sailing is the perfect love story! Jochen Rudat / Former Tesla Central Europa Director, Advisory Board Silent Group
Elon Musk single handedly forced an entire industry to go electric, as a matter of fact if they don’t all go electric now they will soon die. I would like to see the same thing happening for boating. You are not just selling boats – you are the actual leading edge of a crucial and much overdue revolution to sustainable transport!” Klaus Obermeyer / Emmy Award Winner
I am completely excited about solar catamarans. I knew before they are great but now I truly believe this is the future. After so many boats I’ve seen in over 18 years with Boote Exclusiv, this yacht truly blew my mind. Such a silent and peaceful cruising experience – just the way it should be. Martin Hager / Editor in Chief for Boote Exclusiv - Yachts

multihull award winner 2022

Sustainability Success

Sustainability Success

Solar Boats - Electric Yachts Catamarans

10 SOLAR Boats 2023 & 2024 | Electric Yachts & Catamarans

With more steps being taken towards sustainable development, new, eco-friendly solar boats have been introduced in the world of green travel: solar electric catamarans. 

Solar boats are electric yachts that can go for long distances without needing to stop for fuel and without emissions. Those solar catamarans are interesting eco-friendly alternatives to the classic power boat or sailing yacht for cruising. However, there are also a few disadvantages that you should know about before purchasing one!

10 Solar boats, electric yachts & catamarans

Here are the best solar boats that will delight you with a top-notch sustainable yachting experience based on your requirements:

Sunreef Yachts – Eco 80 Sail Catamaran

  • Silent Yachts – Silent 80 3-Deck

HH Catamarans – HH44

Silent yachts – silent 60, sunreef 43m eco (140 ft).

  • Silent 120 Explorer
  • 100 Sunreef Power Eco

Azura Marine – Aquanima 40

Soel yachts – soel senses 48, serenity yachts – serenity 64 (hybrid).

Here’s a quick summary of the features of the best solar catamarans for green yachting in 2023-2024:

Solar BoatsSolar Powered
Electric Propulsion
Eco 80 Sail
L$8 mm
Silent Yachts
Silent 80
L$6 mm
HH Catamarans
S$1 mm
Silent Yachts
Silent 60
M$2.7 mm
Sunreef 43M Eco
(140 ft)
XLOn request.
$23 mm
Silent Yachts
Silent 120 Explorer
XLOn request.
$19 mm
100 Sunreef Power EcoOptional
XLOn request.
$15 mm
Azura M.
Aquanima 40
XS$0.6 mm
Senses 48
SOn request.
$1 mm
Serenity Yachts
Serenity 60
M$2.7 mm

If you are an advocate of sustainable yachting or sustainable tourism and are looking to buy an eco-friendly boat that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels , then you would do well to consider getting a solar catamaran. In this article, I will go through the pros and cons of 10 of the best solar yachts and superyachts that you can buy in 2023 and 2024!

It is also important to note that while there are solar panels for sailboats that you can fit on older models, those new boats have been specifically designed to maximize the use of renewable energy.

Most Luxurious + Most innovative solar system

The Eco 80 Sail Catamaran is one of the electric solar boats provided by Sunreef Yachts.

It features a unique “solar skin” that covers all composite structures on the boat, including hull sides, boom, mast, bimini, and superstructure. This green tech makes it possible to place solar panels where it wouldn’t normally be possible (like the hull and any other smaller but useful surface) and provide enough solar energy from every angle.

The boat is 80-feet long (24.38 meters) and includes electric motors that push it smoothly over the water without causing any vibrations or noise.

Besides being solar powered boat, the Eco 80 Sail Catamaran can also be powered by wind and hydropower. It is designed with a sail on its structure, allowing it to tap into wind power and supplement the solar.

The solar powered sailboat generates enough green power not only to propel the boat and keep it moving but also to charge the essential electric water appliances and other water-sport toys.

So far, the Sunreef Yachts Eco solar sailboats have earned a good reputation for being eco-friendly and sustainable. Besides, this solar powered catamaran takes its commitment to the environment a notch higher by using recycled materials , natural fibers, and non-toxic paints to create their boats.

It is no wonder that Sunreef Yachts have been winning environmental awards for so many years. This solar sailboat is one of the most remarkable boats you can ever invest in and it clearly shows the latest advancements in technology .

Prices: about $8 million USD

Where to buy : Sunreef Yachts .

  • Larger surface covered with solar panels, that are installed also along the hull, and in other unusual areas.
  • The batteries are 30% lighter than normal
  • Unlimited cruising range.
  • It runs silently and does not cause pollution.
  • It has also traditional sails, so it can cruise also when it is not sunny without relying on batteries.
  • Luxury, superb quality and finishing
  • Great helm position.
  • The solar catamaran is very costly (going for $8 million USD or more).
  • The solar panels installed on the sides of the catamaran may not be appealing to the eye of all people.

Silent Yachts – Silent 80 Tri-Deck Solar Catamaran

Best pure electric

The Silent 80 Tri-Deck Solar yacht is popular for the large amount of space it offers.

This solar catamaran by Silent Yachts features three large decks that can be easily customized to fit the owner’s preferences and needs. The topmost deck can either be open or enclosed.

This solar powered yacht offers 4 to 6 cabins that are customizable, regardless of whether the deck remains open or enclosed. Besides, the top deck provides additional living space and can be used as a luxury master suite that opens onto a private space outdoors.

Where to buy : Silent Yachts .

  • Purely electric propulsion that can be helped by the kite sail.
  • The finishing, while being of high standards, doesn’t seem to be at the level of other options in its category.
  • Quite costly, with prices starting at about $6 million USD.
  • If going for a long cruise during cloudy days you may need to run the generator to keep going.
  • The kite sail helps to give some propulsion using wind, but it is less effective than traditional sails.
  • The absence of a traditional sail may make the boat a bit less stable, compromising a bit of the comfort while cruising.

Best for world cruising

HH Catamarans is a small boutique boat builder designing some of the most impressive solar boats for cruising, with one of their latest creations being the HH44.

The HH44 is a groundbreaking new boat that is designed to be eco-friendly and efficient.

The boat has a large battery bank that can be charged by solar panels, and also has two electric motors that can be used for electric propulsion up to 7 knots for up to 2h.

The HH44 has an innovative propulsion system named Eco-Drive. This is a parallel hybrid system that combines diesel and electric propulsion for long-range motoring and silent electric propulsion.

The boat also has two diesel engines, which can be used for long-range motoring or to generate electricity. The boat is also designed to be safe, with four propulsion devices plus sails and a large solar array.

The HH44 has a number of technical features that make it a groundbreaking eco-friendly design, including:

  • 3 types of propulsion: full electric, standard diesel, and sail.
  • 4.2 kWh of solar panels: generating power for recharging the lithium battery bank for solar .
  • 10 kW electric motors (5kW each): mounted on the back end of each diesel engine for electric propulsion.
  • The diesel engines can be used both for propulsion and as electric generators.
  • Possibility to use the propellers to recharge the battery while the boat is sailing. Kind of like using hydropower to charge your solar batteries , pretty cool!

The HH44 is also a performance catamaran thanks to its C-shaped §daggerboards. Daggerboards are an essential component of many sailing vessels, providing both vertical lift and increased upwind sailing performance.

This solar powered yacht features up to 4 double cabins and 2 heads . Not bad for this world-cruising vessel!

If instead, you are looking for a larger boat, HH Catamarans also have other models up to 88ft.

This solar catamaran was also the preferred choice of Gone with the Wynns , a popular cruising YouTube channel. Here’s their announcement video:

Where to buy : HH Catamarans .

  • A true performance world cruiser.
  • Very resilient with 3 different propulsion modes (electric, sail, and conventional engines) and ideal for offshore cruising.
  • It can run silently and without causing pollution.
  • More affordable than other solar catamarans, starting from $1 mm USD
  • Smaller than other options.
  • The improved sailing performance requires narrower hulls, which reduces the available space onboard compared to other traditional vessels of similar size

Best mid-range

The Silent 60 is one of the smaller electric boats made by Silent Yachts. It is designed to be handled by at least two people. The users can either choose to include an additional crew or not.

Despite its outward small appearance, Silent 60 is very spacious and can accommodate a good number of people.

Besides, the electric yacht has a beautiful design that adds to its elegant and luxurious feel. It is usually designed with up to 6 cabins , with each cabin offering every basic amenity you need to have a luxurious stay on the yacht. In fact, the electric solar boat is equipped with everything you need to allow you to live on board permanently!

Solar catamaran - Sunreef 43M Eco

As someone who loves spending time on the water, I was really excited to learn about the Sunreef 43M Eco: a superyacht that is both eco-friendly and luxurious.

I was especially impressed by the solar power system, which is built into the composite structures of the yacht, and the large hydraulic platform which creates a vast walkaround beach club.

The interior of the solar superyacht is just as impressive as the exterior, with a variety of sustainably-sourced materials and fabrics used throughout as well as energy-saving air-conditioning. The Sunreef 43M Eco can welcome up to 12 guests in the most luxurious conditions.

Silent Yachts – Silent 120 Explorer

Solar yacht - Silent 120 Explorer

Here’s another incredible solar super-yacht by Silent Yachts. The Silent 120 Explorer is a truly unique yacht, designed to explore the world in style and comfort.

Powered by solar energy, this solar catamaran is perfect for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the open seas without worrying about the impact on the environment.

With plenty of space for guests and all the amenities you need onboard, the Silent 120 Explorer is the perfect choice for your next adventure. If you’re looking for a yacht that combines luxury and environmental responsibility, the Silent 120 Explorer is a perfect choice.

The company didn’t yet release detailed information, however, this superyacht seems to be even featuring a helipad under the roof’s solar panels!

The Silent 120 Explorer has plenty of room for guests and all the amenities you need onboard. So if you’re ready to embark on your next great adventure, be sure to consider the Silent 120 Explorer, which will likely start being delivered in 2023.

The 100 Sunreef Power Eco

Sunreef recently launched and sold their first 100 Sunreef Power Eco catamaran, a transatlantic luxury craft that takes solar boat design to the next level.

With massive living space, great autonomy, and impressive features like a flybridge that can be transformed into an outdoor cinema, the 100 Sunreef Power Eco is the perfect vessel for cruising in supreme luxury

This catamaran uses the latest innovations in solar power to achieve outstanding energy efficiency, and its ultralight battery bank provides for silent cruising and infinite range.

The fully customizable interior and exterior make this catamaran a truly one-of-a-kind option, and its use of ethically-sourced and eco-responsible materials is sure to please even the most discerning buyer.

If you’re looking for an electric yacht that is both luxurious and eco-friendly, the 100 Sunreef Power Eco is certainly a great option for you if you can afford it!

The most affordable $

The Aquanima 40 catamaran is entirely powered by solar energy. It features creative adaptations and unique innovations that make it eco-friendlier and more economical boat than other solar-powered catamarans. For example, the solar panels installed on the electric catamaran are built in such a way that they can sell any excess solar energy back to shore stations when connected.

The exterior of the Aquanima 40 has an elegant design. Also, the interior is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also very clean and modern.

The boat is designed with 2 single cabins for the crew and 2 double cabins for guests.

Indeed, this solar boat by Azura Marine is one of the most economical and cost-effective options you can go for when buying a solar catamaran.

  • Relatively fast.
  • Ideal for short vacations.
  • The most affordable solar catamaran, starting at about $0.6 million USD.
  • Much smaller than other options.
  • Not recommended for long cruises.
  • Basic looks and layout.

As its name suggests, the Soel Senses 48 is 48 feet long. It has a slender design and is lightweight , making it more economical than most other solar-powered boats.

The boat is designed with two sleeping berths that can accommodate two people each. It also includes a salon that can offer enough sleeping space for four people. 

Compared with most other solar yachts, the Soel Senses 48 has a much smaller size. Its size, adding to its sleek and innovative design, give it faster speed than other solar-powered boats.

It incorporates 12 solar panels installed on the roof ; all these panels generate a combined electrical power of up to 2.7 kWh. The electricity generated by the solar panels is then stored in two batteries which can be easily configured to hold a maximum solar power of 142 kWh.

Like other Soel Yachts, the Soel Senses 48 glides smoothly over water without causing any noise, rattles, or generating fumes.

It has average cruising speeds of 10 knots, even reaching top speeds of up to 18 knots. However, the solar catamaran cannot run at its top speed for long periods.

Both the interior and the exterior of the Soel Senses 48 have a sleek and modern design. Every single component of the solar catamaran has been designed carefully to make it as functional and comfortable as possible. Therefore, when you board on this boat, you can expect to experience one of the best sailing experiences of your life.

The Serenity 64 Yacht features a diesel engine. It is a hybrid solar boat, which means that it can run on either solar power or on diesel.

The diesel engine especially comes in handy when the users wish to achieve faster cruising.

The solar catamaran is a very spacious electric boat and provides plenty of living space. It is built with four luxurious cabins, with each cabin having its ensuite bathroom. And even though the Serenity 64 is smaller than the Serenity 74 model also built by Serenity, it still provided an elegant feel and a smooth sailing experience.

Solar Boats Pros and Cons

Solar Boats pros and cons

The sun is a powerful and free source of energy, making solar power an attractive option for those looking to power their yacht. Solar panels can be used to generate electricity to run the yacht’s lights, appliances, and even the engine. Solar power can also be used to heat water for showers and laundry. But, what are the pros and cons of solar catamarans?

Here’s a quick summary of the solar yachts’ advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of solar boats ✅Disadvantages of solar boats ❌
Eco-friendly: solar power is clean and renewableMore expensive than standard boats
They (mostly) don’t require fuelSolar panels work well only during sunny days
ReliableYou will still need a (diesel) generator onboard: for both safety and continuity of power
Reduced maintenance costsReduced stability while cruising (If without sails)
Cost-effective in the long runThe smaller versions of solar yachts will have quite limited cruising speed when using only the power from solar
Potentially unlimited range, especially for the larger solar catamarans
Possibility to sell back the excess power to shore (when connected)
No restrictions on electrical use

One of the main benefits of solar power is that it is renewable and environmentally friendly. Solar panels have no emissions and do not produce pollution. In principle, they also do not require fuel, making them very cost-effective in the long run. Solar power is also very reliable, as the sun is a constant source of energy.

There are a few disadvantages to solar power. Solar panels can be expensive to install, and while they require less maintenance, this can be quite costly, especially when it will come time to replace the batteries. Solar panels also need to be pointing directly at the sun to be effective, so they may not generate power on cloudy days or at night.

But there’s more, let’s see what some sailing experts are thinking about solar catamarans!

Sailing expert’s solar Boat review

Recently, one of the most popular sailing YouTube channels, Saliling La Vagabonde , published a very honest and interesting review of the solar powered yacht Silent 55. Here’s a summary of their experience:

  • 7 Days onboard (6 nights)
  • Travelled 145nm with an average speed of 7 knots
  • Generator used for about 12h (in total)
  • Fuel consumed: 208 liters

Here are some interesting observations they made:

  • While cruising it may feel less stable than a standard sailing boat because it doesn’t have a sail to stabilize it when hitting the waves.
  • For the Silent 55 it was possible to move at about 3 knots by using only the power generated by the solar panels (without using the batteries) on a sunny day. This means that if you are moving the solar yacht around quite frequently, you will end up using the generator quite a lot to produce the necessary power.
  • When the batteries are out of power, the Silent yacht is using a (diesel) generator to supply the necessary power to keep the boat moving and to power the appliances.
  • A great luxury yacht with all the comforts and going in the right direction for the future of the sector.
  • Overall, the Silent Yacht is a great eco-friendly alternative to a power boat , while if you are thinking about cruising around the world, you would be probably better off going for a standard sailboat (or for some of the hybrid alternatives mentioned in this article, like the HH44).

Why are solar yachts all catamarans?

Solar yachts are all catamarans for 2 main reasons:

  • Catamarans have a larger surface, which allows for placing more solar panels and also offers more room for the batteries onboard.
  • Catamarans have efficient hulls for their size. This reduces their power consumption while moving.

This makes catamarans the ideal platform to build a solar-powered boat.

Modern solar electric boats are undoubtedly an eco-friendly choice in sea travel and a form of green tourism . Not only do these electric boats provide a smooth sailing experience, but they also reduce the release of emissions into the atmosphere, reducing the environmental impact and enhancing sustainability .

Luckily, given their size, solar catamarans can charge themselves (unlike electric cars ), so they can sail indefinitely without the need to stop for refueling.

If you are environmentally conscious and looking to get a boat that is more viable, desirable, and eco-friendly, you may consider investing in one of the solar yachts discussed in this article!

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Recharge at Sea: Solar Catamarans Harness Sun-Powered Serenity


Just as a residential solar system makes a house independent of an electricity grid, a marine solar panel makes a yacht independent of a fossil fuel powered generator. Catamarans boosted by solar power systems are increasingly in demand in today’s day and age for their increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

Here is everything you should know about solar catamarans from Sunreef Yachts Eco :

An Introduction to Solar Catamarans

Derived from natural sources, renewable energy is replenished at a far higher rate than consumed. Of these, solar energy is the most abundant renewable energy resource on Earth that may even be harnessed during cloudy weathers. Additionally, because sunlight remains omnipresent, powering a watercraft with solar energy is a fitting concept.

Before we continue exploring the subject of solar catamarans, let us focus on the architecture. The twin hull structure of catamarans translates into a large beam, which provides ample space for solar panels installation. To top it off, catamarans have a fairly shallow draft that produces little to no drag, making them exceptionally energy efficient .

Marine solar panels are currently gaining substantial popularity amongst catamaran designers and manufacturers as a medium of supplying clean energy via a reliable source. Sunreef Yachts Eco is a pioneer in solar catamarans as we believe that the incorporation of a solar power system into yachts births an environmentally friendly yachting solution with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

The Benefits of Solar Catamarans

The ocean is home to the largest continuous ecosystems; unfortunately, it also remains the most sensitive. Millions of people across the globe indulge in recreational marina and boating activities leaving behind pollution in their wake.

Here are three ways in which solar catamarans rectify commonly occurring hazards for the greater good of the environment:

1. Fuel (oil or gasoline) spills and the discharge of combusted fuels from engines readily contaminates water surrounding the marinas. This aggravates toxicity levels in water, resulting in increased pollutant concentrations in aquatic organisms and sediments.

For illustration, coral reefs, which are a vital source of nitrogen and nutrients for marine food chains and provide shelter for over one million aquatic species, are nearing extinction due to water pollution. Installing solar panels would, without a doubt, decrease the dependency of all types of watercrafts on non-renewable energy sources, i.e., fossil fuels, for operations and increase energy efficiency.

2. Noise from moving gas-powered ships cuts straight to the sea floor and back. These acoustic vibrations transmitting end-to-end affect marine animals to a great extent. Research suggests that human-caused noises result in disrupted behaviours, increased stress, and impaired feeding in marine life, leading to injury and death. Solar catamarans are far quieter than their combustion-driven counterparts; thus, they maintain the oceanic silence vital for the marine life as it enables communication and continuous growth.

3. The elimination of fuels also makes solar yachts more affordable to run and maintain in the long haul. In comparison to fuel powered generators, solar catamarans produce electricity at a lower cost since solar panels obtain power via the sunlight, a renewable source of energy that is present in abundance. But even if your catamaran utilizes both fuel and solar power, you are still to enjoy significant savings on fuel.   

Why Power A Boat with Solar Panels   

Apart from the obvious environmental factors, solar panels fulfil an important criterion for the oceangoing voyagers who do not wish to be left stranded far from land with a dead battery: unlimited backup power.   

On a typical sailing day, there is ample sunlight to ensure the backup battery restores enough power to generate electricity that keeps motors, electrical systems, and onboard appliances running. An added benefit of solar panels is that they continue to generate power even when the catamaran is at a standstill. This energy is stored in batteries for later use.   

Furthermore, unlike gas powered generators, solar catamarans do not produce excessive heat, are quieter, and experience little to no vibrations. This allows boat trips to remain pleasant for sailors and vacationers.   

Sunreef Yachts combines luxury with sustainability to offer noiseless, vibration-free, and fume-free cruising experiences. Launched under the Sunreef Yachts Eco flag, our sailing and motor yachts are powered using inhouse engineered solar panels that are fully integrated within their composite structure for optimal results. However, an additional asset for sailing solar catamarans remains the ability to combine eco motoring with wind propulsion with the use of high-performance kites.   

The Mechanism of the Solar Power System   

Classification of solar panels   .

There are various kinds of solar panels available for marine boats: adjustable panels, standard panels, and high-energy thin-film panels. While some may argue that having a portable solar panel makes it easier to relocate to where the sun shines the brightest, permanently mounted panels remain ready to go throughout the day.

Despite their long life, standard panels often fail to find a place in the marine industry as they compromise the space availability onboard. Hence, high-energy thin-film panels emerge as winners due to their ability of being permanently embedded on the solar catamaran’s bodywork without restricting living space.

The research and development team at Sunreef Yachts Eco developed the industry’s first composite integrated photovoltaic technology to produce highly efficient, shock resistant, flexible, and ultra-thin solar panels. This in-house engineered solar power system was recognized as a winner of the German Design Award 2022 in the category of Excellent Product Design: Eco Design .

Each solar panel consists of photovoltaic cells, compromising of a positive and negative layer for creating an electrical field. These are made of singly-crystal silicon, a semiconductor that absorbs the radiations of the sun to produce electrical power via the photovoltaic effect. For better understanding: the photovoltaic effect is the process of converting photons (a particle of light) to voltage.

Technical Specifications of Solar Panels

While the average solar panels’ weight lies between 8 to 15 kilograms per square meter, Sunreef Yachts Eco’s solar cells have a thickness below one millimetre and weigh only 1.8 kilograms per square meter. This makes Sunreef Yachts Eco the lightest marine solar power system producer in the solar catamaran market.

Each of the solar cells administered into the Sunreef solar catamarans are ISO 9001:2015 certified and offer a peak performance of ±24 percent, this is 25 to 30 percent more power compared to conventional cells. Despite this, these solar cells do not heat up excessively when receiving sunlight.

Integration Into the Solar Catamarans Structure

The orientation of the sun should be as such as that it hits the solar panels at a 90° angle for best performance. However, with the Earth rotating around its axis to produce a 24-hour day, it is non-viable to ensure the perfect angle throughout the day.

What is more is that the amount of energy produced may also differ depending on external factors, such as a building preventing direct sunlight from hitting the solar panels or light experiencing diffraction from the waterbody before contact. For this reason, it is best to invest in high-efficiency solar cells that generate maximum energy even from limited number of active panels.

Sunreef Yachts Eco makes the most of its solar catamarans’ space availability by spreading its “solar skin” across the hulls, mast, superstructure, bow terrace and bimini roof. Due to this arrangement, the solar panels receive ample sunlight at desired angles from early morning to late afternoon.

At the same time, light rays bouncing off the surface of water to the solar panels, in a process called reflection, also helps generate electricity. These superior performance solar panels possess great strength and durability to survive adverse conditions, year after year.

Generation of Electricity on Solar Catamarans

The crystals in marine solar cells are treated to enable the movement of electrons to generate an electric current. These silicon electrons activate only when in direct contact with sunrays. Instantaneously they start producing direct current (or DC) charges, which is captured by wires and stored in the batteries as energy.

At this point, a charge controller is employed as a regulator for the energy to transfer from the solar panels to the battery. It not only manages the energy load received by the battery, but also prolongs the battery life and performance by ensuring the battery is not overcharged or overloaded. Solar catamarans deploy multiple charge controllers depending on the energy produced.

While the current may be supplied directly to support the electrical demands of the catamaran, if the appliances demand alternating current (or AC), an inverter is added to the cycle to convert the DC to AC first.

Solar Catamarans in Action

But how much energy is enough energy? Working out a catamarans’ energy requirements requires summing up the energy consumed by each device onboard in watt-hours. For better understanding: energy is power accumulated over time, so if power is calculated in watts, energy is watt-hours.

Hence, the first step of installing solar panels dictates an extensive energy assessment of the watercraft. This requires checking the labels of every individual appliance onboard for its typical amp hours and volts used, be it the fridge, fan, or lightbulb. A battery monitor can also help measure energy consumed more accurately.

Depending on the size of the catamaran and the energy consumed, the solar panels size and wattage of power can be precisely determined. Multiple solar panels may be wired together to form a solar array for maximum energy generation. Aiming to fulfil the power needs of your catamaran with solar panels allows you to enjoy a quiet, peaceful anchorage.

Overcoming The Challenges of Solar Catamarans

While yacht solar panels resolve the problem for keeping the batteries topped up without running the generator, solar power systems are faced with challenges of their own. For starters, the harsh weather incurred at sea and saltwater splashing on or immersing the panels accounts for much damage.

However, technological advancements have enabled solar panels to withstand most of these environmental adversities. To illustrate, the installation and electronics linked with solar power systems have now become more resistant to short circuits and corrosion.

Sunreef Yachts Eco employs a unique photovoltaic integration technique in solar catamarans to give the panels extreme resistance to shock and abrasion. Even if the cell eventually cracks, the solid metal foundation remains intact to maintain a high-power output. Furthermore, these solar panels experience no light-induced degradation, no temperature coefficient, and favourable low-light and broad spectral response.

Likewise, the constrains of surface area for marine solar PVs have been addressed with the ability to manufacture customized solar panels. For instance, Sunreef Yachts Eco uses the lightest solar cells in the industry which offer unparalleled flexibility for placement on rounded surfaces of the solar catamaran while others break under pressure. Here solar panels are integrated vertically (on hull sides, flybridge sides, and mast) and horizontally (on front flybridge and bimini) to maximize energy generation.

While the Sunreef Yachts Eco’s solar panel system has a protracted life expectancy, any panels sustaining damage, due to adverse conditions at sea or other geographical circumstances, can easily be replaced. However, it is proven repeatedly that their performance remains unaltered over extended periods of time.

Efficiency of Solar Catamarans Vs. Diesel Yachts

Solar panels make for an ideal energy provider as they ensure the batteries always have power. This makes solar catamarans more self-sustainable and cost efficient to run in comparison to gas-powered ones. Additionally, fewer moving parts in solar catamarans call for significantly lesser maintenance in comparison to diesel yachts.

Boats of all shapes, sizes, and types (sail or motor) can be powered via solar energy to run all onboard appliances on battery. Apart from fulfilling the watercrafts’ day to day electrical usage, utilizing a renewable source of energy extends the durability and reliability of the catamaran.

But most importantly, a solar powered yacht compared to a standard diesel yacht has a significantly reduced carbon footprint. Ideally, with the use of solar power generation on catamarans, you would save 108.5kg of CO2 emissions per day or 39.6 metric tonnes annually.

Why Invest in A Solar Catamaran?

The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the sweet smell of the sea are one of the many joys of sailing. However, as an ocean enthusiast, it is crucial to calculate your impact on the environment. On average, the Sunreef Yachts Eco’s solar catamarans account for substantial electricity generation of up to 30 kWh, promoting a positive green footprint.

Today, solar catamarans are trending among yacht owners and shipbuilders as a clean medium to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, staying true to its legacy of yacht innovation and evolution, Sunreef Yachts Eco continues to work on advancements to its solar panels for improved performance, efficiency, and durability.

Evaluating the Sunreef Yachts Eco Solar Catamarans

Using advanced technology, Sunreef Yachts Eco has engineered ultra-thin, flexible solar panels with the best performance on the market. They are seven times lighter than the average solar power system, enabling them to be fully integrated into the composite structures, including curved surfaces.

The more surface area covered, the more electricity generated. The 80 Sunreef Power incorporates 200 square meters of solar panels (weighing about 360 kilograms) that deliver an astounding 40 kilowatts peak per hour. This setup alone produces solar energy equalling to two generators weighing 800 kilograms altogether.

Hence proven that Sunreef Yachts Eco optimized marine solar panel system outperforms a diesel generator both by weight and performance. Additionally, at reduced speeds, the Sunreef 80 Eco remains fully autonomous, running solely on solar power.

In light of sustainable yachting, Sunreef Yachts Eco has committed to launch over 40 models of its solar catamarans by the end of 2024; this includes a wide selection of sailing yachts, power yachts, and superyachts. Furthermore, Sunreef Yachts has begun commissioning a new range of technologically advanced hybrid ecospeeders, called the Sunreef ULTIMA , that would further extend their solar catamarans line up.

Future Innovations in Solar Catamarans

Despite the distinctive competency of Sunreef Yachts Eco in solar catamarans, the journey of innovation does not come to a halt. To further reduce our carbon footprint, we are undergoing ground-breaking research to redirect excess heat secured from direct sunlight on solar panels to the boilers of our solar catamarans.

Furthermore, Sunreef Yachts Eco is currently developing a concept of an all-new 90 feet sustainable sailing superyacht , called ‘The Zero Cat’ . Apart from sporting a solar power system, this catamaran will use a zero-emission generator to convert methanol to clean hydrogen for unlimited autonomy and greater self-sufficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are solar catamarans favorable?  Because sunlight remains omnipresent, solar catamarans discern as a greener, cost efficient, and self-sustaining yachting solution . The environmentally friendly passenger conveyance from Sunreef Yachts Eco is consciously built to counter air, water, and sound pollution.
  • What is a solar catamaran? A solar catamaran is a twin-hulled vessel powered by solar panels, harnessing sunlight to drive its propulsion and onboard systems, offering an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered boats. Powered using inhouse engineered solar panels, solar catamarans designed and manufactured by Sunreef Yachts Eco encourage a positive green footprint at sea. 
  • Do solar catamarans exist? Launched under the Sunreef Yachts Eco flag, our sailing and motor yachts are powered using inhouse engineered solar panels that are fully integrated within their composite structure for optimal results. The Polish designer and manufacturer has also committed to launch 40 additional models of its solar catamarans in 2024.
  • Are there any solar powered yachts? With an increasing demand for solar catamarans with increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, Sunreef Yachts Eco has put to sea several variants of its sailing and power catamarans such as the Sunreef 60 Eco , Sunreef 70 Eco , Sunreef 80 Eco , and 80 Sunreef Power Eco
  • What are the advantages of solar catamarans? The installation of solar panels reduces a watercrafts sole dependency on non-renewable energy sources for operations. In comparison to their combustion-driven counterparts, solar catamarans offer noiseless, vibration-free, and fume-free cruising experiences.
  • How much is a solar-powered catamaran? With Sunreef Yachts Eco’s philosophy of promoting clean green yachting, the company has released a new range of solar catamarans , the Sunreef ULTIMA , with prices starting as low as €2M* for the 44 ULTIMA ECO . *Please note that all prices listed are subject to change at any time without prior notice.


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solar yachts

Sunreef Venture S.A.

Sunreef Yachts Shipyard

ul. Tarcice 6

80-718 Gdańsk, Poland

+48 58 769 77 77

solar yachts

Zen Yachts

The ZEN50 is a game changer. World’s first series production catamaran equipped with a wingsail, it defines a new distinctive class of its own, where genuine zero-emission meets high comfort and performance, limitlessly. 

Designed from scratch for ZEN Yachts by award-winning naval architect Julien Mélot , this full carbon catamaran is the ultimate essence of technology driven, high performance and luxurious, eco-friendly leisure yachting. 

The blue water capable ZEN50 lightweight racing carbon hulls are combined with a huge solar roof for an unrivaled solar power vs. displacement ratio above 1:1 (18 kW / 17 tonnes), making this yacht completely energy self-sufficient. A revolutionary, fully automated, wingsail - by Ayro© - can be added as a range and speed extender. The yacht’s high capacity battery bank powers a powerful silent electric propulsion, allowing the ZEN50 to achieve 14 knots and maintain high continuous speeds in unrivaled safety and comfort, indefinitely… 

The ZEN50 is offered with or without wingsail and comes in 3 main different versions: Racer, Cruiser and Explorer, each dedicated to a different usage and owner profile. We use these versions as a basis to define a final, bespoke specification for each of our valued clients and ZEN Community Members. Scroll down for more details, specifications and prices.

solar yachts

1st WINGSAIL series production yacht in the world!

The OceanWings32 - by Ayro© - was initially developed for Team Oracle, for the America’s Cup 2010 in Valencia. Over years, it has further been developed and automated by VPLP and was installed on Energy Observer in 2019. Two years of field feedback have allowed the Ayro team to fine tune the algorithm commanding the wingsail. The ZEN50 is the first series production leisure craft to be equipped with this fully automated wingsail. It is controlled at the touch of a finger on screens, is automatically adjusted and has several safety modes and features. The two parts of the wingsail can be hoisted and lowered independently and with the simple touch of a button. The wingsail OceanWings32 is the ideal complement for the solar roof for those wishing to cruise long distances off-shore with zero-emissions.

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts

Greatest ratio SOLAR POWER / weight on the market

At 17 tonnes lightweight and 18,000 W of peak solar power, the ratio of the ZEN50 is at over 1 kW per displaced tonne of water or beyond 1:1 which is far beyond any other blue water CE Cat A yacht in this size range. Lots of solar power for little water to displace is the strong and healthy foundation the energy self-sufficient ZEN50 is built upon.

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts

Performance CARBON sandwich hulls

The hulls of the ZEN50 have been designed from a blank screen for ultimate efficiency - understand minimum drag or minimal energy consumption for a range of speeds from 6 to 10 knots. Their shape is aggressive, sharp and slender. Their reverse bows cut through water like a sword cuts through butter and their curvature is reminiscent of graceful dolphin bodies. These hulls are undoubtedly of the performance type and are built with the best available composites: Carbon fibre and Corecell™. The combination of high strength, low weight and performance design allow the ZEN50 to reach speeds of up to 14 knots.

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts

INFINITE range at high CONTINUOUS speeds

With maximized solar and wind power and minimized energy consumption… the ZEN50 can sail continuously at speeds varying between 6 and 10 knots. Thorough simulations in various sea states and weather system have consistently shown the ZEN50 will be able to achieve performance catamaran speeds continuously without using a genset. With the ZEN50, the world is your oyster and the wildest destinations are within your reach with this self-reliant vessel!

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts

True ZERO-EMISSION operation

The first ZEN50 unit, whose construction started in March 2023, will not be equipped with a genset at all and will not have any fossil fuels onboard. The ZEN50 energy system with its very large capacity 160 kWh battery bank, has been designed to function for days in complete safety with minimal solar energy harvest and no wind. It is perfectly safe with no backup genset and operates 24/7 without any polluting emissions.

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts

NO FUEL , no costs

Naturally, requiring no fuel to operate day in day out is great news for the environment, it is also fantastic news when sailing into remote areas where fuel bunkering might be near impossible or where the fuel quality might be an issue. Finally, it also makes a massive difference in this yacht’s costs of operation. Imagine the hundreds of liters of diesel saved over just a week, the obsolete engine maintenance schedules, the clogged filters and dirty tanks from another age… Welcome to a new burden-free, energy self-sufficient era, welcome to clean and graceful eco-yachting, welcome to ZEN Yachts.

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Highest SAFETY & reliability

At ZEN Yachts, we have made some design choices to attain energy self-reliance with the ZEN50 that reduces the habitable volume in the hulls, similar to performance catamarans. Where we have not and will never compromise is on safety. Our main voltage system is 48V making it perfectly safe to work on. The level of redundancy of the batteries and solar panels is 10! The main electrical architecture is split in 2 so that should anything happen on 1 hull, the entire vessel can still operate normally. There are 2 independent helm stations and the ZEN50 is packed with special safety features, nonsubmersible compartments and we can even offer an in-depth practical course on safety equipment usage and management. Sailing with the ZEN50 is not only exhilarating and clean, it is ultra safe!

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Unrivaled space & COMFORT

The ZEN50 offers the speeds of a performance catamaran, the comfort of a large motor yacht and the simplicity of an electric car. No less than 2 large day beds, 3 dining areas for over 10 people, 1 professional galley and 2 wet kitchens, 5 heads, up to 4 double ensuite cabins, 1 bunk double and 1 single together with both saloon and dining areas converting into extra sleeping areas, this is simply unrivaled on a 50 ft. catamaran. Add an electric tender, dive compressor, satellite internet, 2 helm stations (cockpit and flybridge), a solar roof that converts into a gigantic upper deck to enjoy the most epic sunrises and sunsets, welcome onboard the ZEN50!

ZEN50 wingsail and solar powered performance zero emission electric catamaran yacht by ZEN Yachts


Main particulars.

• Length Over All: 15.7m

• Beam: 8.4m

• Depth Molded: 2.7m at midship

• Displacement (light) : 17 T

• Draft (design): 1.3m (4.3ft) incl. keel

• Passenger Capacity: 12

• Berths: 12 (4 x double + 2 x single + saloon)

• Building Material: Carbon Fiber - Corecell™ composite

• Certification: CE Cat A - Unrestricted with 12 persons

Note: Some of the above figures may vary between versions


• Propulsion: 2 x 50 kW brushless DC motors

• Main Battery Pack Capacity: 160 kWh Lithium

• Solar Roof Peak Power: 18 kWp

• Wingsail: Oceanwings® OWS 3.2 by Ayro©

• Backup Battery Pack Capacity (Nav/Com/Wing): 5 kWh Lithium

• Main System Voltage: 48V - Low voltage for total human safety

• Accommodation Voltage: 110V or 220V


• Max. Speed on e-motor only: 10 kn

• Max. Speed on e-motor & Wingsail: 14 kn

• Cruising Speed for continuous operation - solar only: 4.5 - 5 kn

• Cruising Speed for continuous operation - solar and wing: 6 - 10 kn

• Cruising Speed day time: 8 - 10 kn

• Range Over 24 h: 180+ nm

Note: These values may vary between versions and sea / weather conditions


• Integrated power management system

• Solar power & energy storage system

• Electric propulsion system

• By-wire steering system

• Helm stations at cockpit & flybridge

• Galley counters, storage, sink, oven, stove, fridge, freezer

• 4 en suite heads with enclosed shower, toilet, sink & faucet (in each head)

• All cabin furniture (as shown in layouts)

• Aft deck fixed dining table and aft sofa with collapsible back rest (as shown in layouts)

• Fore deck day bed and lateral seats (as shown in layouts)

• Outdoor marine cork decking / indoor saloon natural bamboo decking

• All cushions In/Outdoor upholstered with Sunbrella® fabric

• 6 deck hatches

• 2 x 500 liter (2 x 132 gal) fresh water tanks

• 2 x 100 liter approx. (2 x 26 gal) fresh water tanks + 1 fresh water pump

• 2 x 350+ liter approx. (2 x 92 gal) holding tanks

• Railings, cleats and fore deck trampolines

• Mooring equipment: 33 kg Rocna® stainless steel anchor + 50 m stainless steel chain 10 mm + 150 m nylon rope + e-windlass

• Regulatory navigation equipment including navigation lights & mast

• 2 x chart plotter 16”; 2 x VHF with DSC button

• Regulatory Life Saving Appliances

• Critical spare parts kit

Note: The above equipment is for the Racer version. Cruiser & Explorer versions carry additional equipment

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Solar Roof Layout

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Solar Roof Layout

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Flybridge Layout

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Flybridge Layout

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Main Deck Layout - Asymmetric D (subject to changes)

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Main Deck Layout - Asymmetric D (subject to changes)

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Cabin Layout - Asymmetric D (subject to changes)

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Cabin Layout - Asymmetric D (subject to changes)

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Cabin Layout - Asymmetric E (subject to changes)

ZEN50 Solar Wingsail Electric Catamaran - Cabin Layout - Asymmetric E (subject to changes)



Solar & Wingsail, basic configuration ready to sail, navigation, safety, fridge, etc.

EUR 2 400 000


Solar & Wingsail, well equipped configuration with, among other options, electric tender, AC and water maker

EUR 2 650 000


Solar & Wingsail ultimate configuration with all available options

EUR 2 850 000

Solar only, ready to sail basic configuration with navigation, safety, fridge, etc.

EUR 1 850 000


Solar only, well equipped configuration with, among other options, electric tender, AC and water maker

EUR 2 100 000


Solar only, ultimate configuration with all available options

EUR 2 300 000

Ready to reserve your ZEN50?

Want more information .

solar yachts

Soel Yachts

  • solar electric yachts
  • Soel Senses 62
  • Soel Senses 82
  • Soel Shuttle 14
  • Custom model

True ecotourism

no more fuel

The SoelCat 12 is an energy autonomous solar electric boat, designed from the ground up as a fully sustainable excursion vessel to enjoy the sea. The solar catamaran brings  true eco-tourism  to water-bound operators, communities, resorts, lagoons and nature reserves. With no CO2 or noise emissions involved, we can save the ocean and offer a better experience to our guests! The heart of the concept is  silence : being on board without any distractions lets the journey become the destination!

Solar electric yacht désigner Soel Yachts

“Being on the solar catamaran gives you a feeling of total relaxation and freedom. The energy autonomous boat is powered by clean energies and we don’t have to worry about harming the environment with dirty exhaust fumes, fossil fuels or complicated maintenance! Our guests love the quietness and the openness of the vessel, which make every sunset cruise a very special moment!”

S. Dekeunynck, French Polynesia

electric from the start

The SoelCat 12 solar electric catamaran is integrally designed for electric propulsion right from the first line drawing to the matched propeller. Every aspect of this vessel contributes towards its highly efficiency for solar electric sailing. The lightweight yet durable fibreglass construction, the large solar roof and the super slender hulls are the major key factors for the solar vessel’s high performance when it comes to speed and range. The electric propulsion system for the SoelCat 12 is superior when it comest to volume and weight.


During downtime, the SoelCat 12 can utilise its large solar array to provide energy for your land based electricity grid. The solar electric catamaran then turns into a mobile power station and is able to feed 8.6kWp into the AC grid or provide power at remote places where no grid is available. The 120kWh  lithium battery  system supplies all the energy required for save operations during day and night.

Tesla on the water, SoelCat 12, SOEL YACHTS, mobile power station on the ocean, electric catamaran, electric boat company, solar electric naval architecture


Length 11.80 m 39 ft
Beam 5.80 m 19 ft
Draught 0.70 m 2.3 ft
Displacement 6 ton 13.200 lb
Solar Power 8.6 kWp
Battery Capacity 2x 60 kWh
Electric Motor 2x 30 kW
V 13 kn
V 8 kn
V 6 kn
Passengers 12 – 20
Crew 4
CE Design Category C
  • Running Time (battery only)
  • Running Time (with solar)

Solar yacht design by Soel Yachts

“Every detail on the boat is perfect – gorgeous spaces to relax, great spots to view the sunset or the marine life, and even a bar! My favorite moment of all was after sunset, when an incredible manta ray came to say hello, drawn by the underwater lights of the solar catamaran.”

S. Lee, New Zealand

fully customizable

The deck space of the solar electric boat can be customised to your wishes and host a variety of seating arrangements and layouts. Choose classic yacht fittings, luxurious and comfortable. Or practical and economical deck wear and simple bench setup for water taxi services. Furthermore, the electric catamaran can be equipped with a day head in the port side hull.  Get in contact with us now  to learn more about the different options and to discuss your personal requirements with your Soel Yachts contact partner.

Boat interior solar electric catamaran

The solar electric catamaran can be equipped with removable roll down screens on every side for flexibility in every situation. Screens for sun shading can be applied on good days, while transparent rain screens protect your guests in bad weather conditions. When the screens are not in use, the comfortable SoelCat 12 lounge layout offers spacious space options in the hulls and underneath the furniture.

Protection screens from the SoelCat 12 solar electric catamaran


With both the Okeanos Foundation and Soel Yachts sharing a vision of sustainable sea transport and striving for a healthier planet, we are honoured that our partner, the Okeanos Foundation has funded and supported the development of the SoelCat 12. The first SoelCat 12, named the ‘Okeanos Pearl’ is the first energy autonomous vessel for the ecotourism industry and will pave the way for more sustainable coastal water vessels in many different sectors. The Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is proving a pioneering spirit by operating the solar electric Okeanos Pearl. As the first resort, they are offering truly sustainable, noise and emission-free excursions in the pristine lagoon of Bora Bora to their guests.


The SoelCat 12 can be delivered as a demountable solar electric boat, which fits into two 40ft high cube containers. Such compact dimensions enable ease transport of the catamaran at affordable rates to destinations all over the world. Neither lamination processes or specialized tools are required for the SoelCat 12’s quick assembly on location. For more details, please feel free to follow the link below and discuss your project requirements with your Soel Yachts partner!

Your project enquiry

solar yachts

  • Yachting World
  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

Review: Silent 55, the extraordinary solar powered yacht

Yachting World

  • January 18, 2019

Silent Yachts is tapping into the solar zeitgeist and creating a new meaning for the term ‘powercat’.  Sam Fortescue reports

Silent Yachts Silent 55

There is a slow, silent revolution under way in the yachting world. It is a revolution that is introducing tonnes of lithium and a sprinkling of silicon to the spec list of new boats. Holding out the promise of silent mobility, plus limitless domestic power on board, it made a big splash at the last Cannes Festival of Yachting – not least thanks to the new Silent 55 catamaran which debuted there.

From the pontoon side, the Silent 55 looks like a typical modern catamaran, with a big coachroof studded with windows and a flybridge helm. Except there’s no mast. Now, bear with me here. I realise that this is a sailing magazine, but we will shortly get back to more familiar territory. The unique qualities of this catamaran only become apparent from up top, where an expanse of solar panels stretches away fore and aft, embedded into the coachroof. The hard top itself carries yet more panels, and can be folded down flush to give an unshaded solar array of 49m2. During the heat of a summer day in the Med, this is capable of generating 10kW of power and up to around 60kWh in the course of the day.

Silent Yachts Silent 55 exterior

But to make a solar system work in reality, Köhler had to go back to the drawing board on yacht design. The saloon and hulls have extra thermal insulation to keep air-con losses down, and the use of carbon and aramid in key areas helps reduce the overall weight to a decent 17 tonnes (a Lagoon 52 weighs 22.5 tonnes). He has tried to keep windows out of the direct sun with long overhangs and in contrast to the Lagoon’s 12 deck hatches, the Silent 55 has just two.

Holistic design

On the other hand, it has lots of opening windows, to allow a natural draught to do its job. “It’s a holistic approach – you can’t take the batteries and the drivetrain and drop it into another boat.”

Of course, using the propulsion system quickly takes its toll of the boat’s 140kW battery bank. The model on display at Cannes had two 135kW motors, giving you just half an hour of silent motoring flat-out, albeit at a top speed of over 20 knots. More reasonable 30kW engines and a single-digit speed give you greater range. Nonetheless, the electric drive alone isn’t going to allow you to outrun a storm, or race home after a day at anchor, so the boat is designed to work with a generator hidden in the heavily insulated transom of its starboard hull. At cruising speed of around 5-6 knots, Köhler says there is rarely any need to use the generator, citing an owner who has just emailed him triumphantly about a second year totally generator-free. “In the end, you have to compare it to the performance of a sailing boat,” Köhler says. “It is as fast as a sailing boat in similar conditions – after all, there is no wind without sun.” He went so far as to tell me during the sea trial in Palma, Mallorca, that he believed the majority of sailors would happily dispense with the hassle of sails and a rig if only they could enjoy silent motoring and anchoring. “As soon as people realise the incredible concept of this boat, they won’t understand why they ever did anything else.”

The market does not seem to agree with him – yet. Sales of the boat have been good – they have already sold six, five of which are already in the water. But of those, four customers have taken the sail option, which means planting a 19.7m tall mast complete with boom and rigging slap bang in the middle of the coachroof solar array. “I was a bit amazed,” Köhler admits. “The shade from the rig reduces the energy generated by the solar area, while it costs more and is heavier, so consumes more fuel. Maybe it is for optical reasons.” In fact, the shade of the rig slashes the average yield of the solar panels in half. In the Med, that means around 30kWh per day. But perhaps it figures. The typical profile of buyers is an environmentalist who has a Tesla electric car and is “an early adopter who likes to have things before others”. And at low speeds, with modest use of the air-con, the reduced energy generation should still cover daily consumption.

Silent Yachts Silent 55 Sail Version exterior

The performance under sail should be reasonable because of the lightweight build of the boat, its broad 8.47m beam and stub keels added to each hull. Control lines are led back via conduits in the coachroof to the flybridge helm station, to make single-handing under sail a possibility.

More interesting, I think, is a sort of halfway-house option using a kite rig. This optimises the performance of the solar panels and gives plenty of propulsion. On the smaller 55 and the 64, Silent Yachts currently recommends a 19m2 kite that costs around €25,000 – a fraction of the cost of a new mast, boom, shrouds and sails. “The sail automatically makes a figure of eight above the boat, and you can steer it with a joystick or an app on an android phone,” Köhler explains. “It can propel the 55 at up to 6 knots, even in light winds.” Perfect for an Atlantic crossing, then.

For the bigger Silent 79, which will hit the water in the summer, a commercial grade Sky Sail system needs to be used – a smaller version of the ones used on cargo ships. This kite can propel the boat at ten knots, but it costs more than ten times as much as its smaller cousin. Both are capable of pulling the boat upwind. So far, so new. But outside the novel energy and propulsion system, the Silent 55 aims to do what many other cruising catamarans are trying to achieve. “Most of our clients order for circumnavigation and long-term cruising,” Köhler says. So the boat is aimed to be as comfortable and capable as possible with watermakers, TVs and an induction hob that all capitalise on the boat’s abundant energy. A flexible configuration allows owners the choice 
of between three and six cabins – the latter designed for charter. The owner’s cabin lies forward of the saloon, under the windows of the coachroof, which provide magnificent views and abundant natural light. There’s a walk-around bed and steps down into the starboard hull give access to an en-suite shower room and heads.

Silent Yachts Silent 55 master cabin

In my view, the best cabin lies aft of this, accessed in the traditional manner down steps out of the saloon. The king-sized bed lies athwartships and the shower is larger than that of the master cabin. There’s more space down here, better headroom and still plenty of light courtesy of the many hull lights.

Silent Yachts Silent 55 guest cabin

When I had the chance to sea trial the Silent 55, albeit in motorboat format, I jumped at it. It was a contrary autumn day on Mallorca with 15 knots breeze – just a shame, then, that this wasn’t one of the sailing configured versions.

To start with, getting on board is made really easy courtesy of deep boarding platforms on the skirts. She feels rather square because of that vast, glazed saloon with its deep overhang, and perhaps because of the utilitarian nature of the hard top, which is really about supporting more solar panels. Nevertheless, the side decks are broad and uncluttered. The space up top is designed to concertina down flat, hence the hydraulic rams, fold-down seat back and lowering console. It makes a great sailing position, though, with all round visibility, and is also perfect for sundowners at anchor. When the rain comes down, this feels quite exposed, but there is a fully sheltered helm at the front of the saloon, and it is also possible to drive the boat from anywhere using a tablet thanks to smart electronics. Under power, the handling is superb. The quietness of the motors is astonishing, and I gather they’ll be inaudible on the next boat, which will do away with the gearbox. Even in the aft cabins, directly above the motors, there is no more than a distant hum. The boat responds instantly to the power and the wind seemed to have no impact at all. As with any propulsion system, the power consumption jumps as you pile on the speed – it was sobering to see. At 6 knots, both motors drew 10kW but at 8 knots it was closer to 30kW. I liked the huge saloon with its raised table for 360º views. And the sliding door and window gives great access aft, connecting the saloon and cockpit in fine conditions. The finish was smart and in muted tones, feeling more Scandinavian than German.

Intriguingly, at least it seems to me, Köhler has tapped into something with the concept behind Silent Yachts – but not entirely for the reasons that he expected. Buyers are opting for the sail or kite versions of the boat because they want a comfortable wind-powered craft with abundant, quiet energy on tap. It brings a whole new meaning to the 
term ‘powercat’

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This New 427-Foot Superyacht Is Powered by 16,000 Square Feet of Solar Panels

Dubbed the solar express, the vessel was was penned by anthony glasson of design studio m51., rachel cormack.

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Solar Express

Sometimes a name can tell you everything you need to know about a superyacht . That’s certainly the case with Solar Express, at least.

The futuristic new concept, which was penned by Anthony Glasson of design studio M51 , was inspired by steam trains like the one featured in the 2004 film The Polar Express . It’s also covered from tip to tail with solar panels for cleaner cruising. Hence the punning moniker.

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Spanning an imposing 427 feet, the Solar Express sports a sleek, locomotive-like silhouette and a huge spike at the bow that Glasson says takes cues from a “narwhal tusk.” Looks aside, the vessel incorporates naval architecture that’s at the bleeding edge.

Glasson, who has spent a decade-plus working as an engineer on superyachts ranging all the way up to 295 feet, has centered the design on solar power. The foredeck, sundeck and stern are fitted with more than 16,000 square feet of solar panels. All the energy that’s harnessed from the sun is then stored in large batteries and used to power the yacht’s onboard amenities. It’s also used to power part of the hybrid propulsion system, which is comprised of twin Azipods and electric generators.

Solar Express

The superyacht sports two lavish VIP cabins that overlook the pool below.  M51 Concepts

To improve efficiency, the Solar Express is equipped with a lightweight aluminum hull. She also features lightweight luxury materials throughout. Less excess weight allows for a greater battery capacity, though the firm did not give any figures regarding speed or range.

With a volume of 5,260 GT, Solar Express has a relatively small interior for her class. She also has fewer glitzy amenities than some other superyachts of the same size. This was a necessary measure to ensure there was enough space for solar panels.

“The idea behind the concept was inspired from my many years working as a crew member on large superyachts and witnessing the huge energy consumption first hand,” Glasson told Robb Report via email. “Solar Express is an attempt (far from perfect) to reduce fuel usage over the service life of the yacht.”

Suffice it to say, Solar Express is still plenty luxurious. She is fitted with two lavish VIP cabins on the upper deck that offer panoramic views, along with a large 33-foot swimming pool and a hot tub. You can also expect a sizable swim platform and accompanying tender.

Now show us a steam train that has all of that.

Check out more photos below:

Solar Express

M51 Concepts

Solar Express

Rachel Cormack is a digital editor at Robb Report. She cut her teeth writing for HuffPost, Concrete Playground, and several other online publications in Australia, before moving to New York at the…

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The perfect balance between luxury and sustainability

A new way of exploration, bring innovative and environmental solutions to sea navigation.

A new way of exploration

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Whisper Yachts is constantly innovating and adapting its products to push back the limits of responsible navigation, placing respect for seas and oceans at the heart of their concerns.

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With Whisper Yachts, reveal your pioneering spirit. Enjoy a sense of belonging in the middle of the immensity, delight the beauty of the oceans without damaging them.

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Whisper Yachts reduces the carbon impact on the environment by 90% and is working to reduce to 100%. 

Sustainable by nature, the design team is committed to always selecting sustainable materials without compromising quality. 

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Whisper Yachts offers a range of green energy luxury yachts with 100% solar electric motor yachts that provide a way of sailing more handy, comfy and eco-friendly. 

Whisper Yachts exists to bring sustainable and environmental solutions to sea navigation.

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100% solar powered boats

When you own an Elvene, you’re free to use it in any weather. It has unlimited range, makes no noise and doesn’t smell. No maintenance or charging is required either. Pretty awesome.

Curious about the future of solar-powered boating?

Get our e-book “MAKING SOLAR WAVES” for free

By subscribing to our exclusive newsletter you get direct access to Making Solar Waves , our 40-page e-book that is packed full of info about the current state of solar tech and boating trends. You also automatically participate in our Great Giveaway of 2024, with a chance of winning your very own solar-powered boat!

By signing up you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy .

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  • Why are electric boats experiencing rapid growth?
  • How do solar-powered boats behave when there’s no sunlight?
  • What role does solar power play in the global push towards sustainability and a cleaner future?
  • And much more

By subscribing to our exclusive newsletter you get direct access to Making Solar Waves , our 40-page e-book. You also automatically participate in our Great Giveaway of 2024, with a chance of winning your very own solar-powered boat!

Elvene Amber on the waves

Live free and easy.

Our smart and fun solar powered boats are sustainable, easy to use and provide modern sea lovers with peaceful and quiet freedom.

Elvene’s drivetrains will take you at least 20 NM, even if you’d be riding inside a cave – which in all honesty sounds just like the kind of cool thing a real Elvene pirate would do.

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Fulfil your naval dreams with Amber, our super-light flagship model that combines the practicality and offshore capabilities of a Center Console with the comfort and overnight possibilities of a Day Cruiser. With her two independent motors, built-in easy-to-use infotainment system, seating for 7 and cuddy cabin, Amber provides you with everything you need to enjoy real freedom on the seas.

  • Length 6,2 m
  • Width 2,1 m
  • Weight 750 kg
  • Top speed 15 knots
  • Cruising speed 11–15 knots
  • • Cuddy cabin in bow (2 persons) • Infotainment system for easy operation 
• Infinite range at low cruising speed, 20 NM at high cruising speed • Fireproof LifePo4 battery 
• Security via Amber app
 • Constant connection via 4G 
• Two independent motors

Greta v2 3

You don’t have to be big to make a difference. Greta is Elvenes’ entry level turn key solution, making electrical boating available for everyone! She’s maintenance-free, unsinkable and extremely easy to use. With her centerized battery and antiskid solar panels, Greta is just as perfect as a well-balanced fishing machine as she is for the family day trip. Available with or without a steering console.

  • Length 4,7 m
  • Width 1,4 m
  • Weight 150 kg
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  • Top speed 5 knots Minimum reach 20 NM/day
  • Price: from 5.500 €

The smarter choice

Solar powered electrical boats are gaining popularity as more people want to keep the waters clean and reduce their carbon footprint. These boats offer many benefits over traditional gas-powered boats, from cost savings to environmental protection. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider buying a solar electric boat.

Solar electric boats are eco-friendly

As opposed to gas-powered boats, solar electric boats produce zero emissions, which means that they do not pollute the air or waterways. This is especially important when boating on waterways where wildlife and plant life are vulnerable to pollution. Solar electric boats are a great way to enjoy boating while reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the environment.

You save money

Another great reason to buy a solar electric boat is that they can save you money in the long run. Solar electric boats require very little maintenance. The cost of electricity is zero, since the boat produces it by itself with the integrated solar panels. Over time, the savings on fuel and maintenance costs will easily offset the higher initial investment.

They're quiet

Solar electric boats are much quieter than traditional gas-powered boats. This is because electric motors produce less noise than gas engines, which means that you can enjoy a peaceful, quiet ride on the water. This is not only enjoyable for you and your passengers, but it is also less disruptive to wildlife and other boaters.

You get improved performance

Solar electric boats offer instant torque, which means that they can accelerate more quickly and reach higher speeds faster. Additionally, electric motors offer smoother and more consistent power delivery, which makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable ride. Furthermore, electric motors require no warm-up time, which means you can set off on your boating adventure right away.

You get innovative technology

Solar panels have come a long way in recent years, and modern solar electric boats are powered by high-quality, durable solar panels that can withstand harsh marine conditions and can be walked on. Investing in a solar electric boat is a way to stay on the cutting edge of boating technology while also doing your part to protect the environment.

About Elvene

With a love for open waters and centuries of boat building heritage in our blood, Elvene was founded on the idea to bring a fresh, environmentally friendly dimension to boating.

Finland’s Jakobstad, the hometown of Elvene, is internationally known for its boat building traditions both old and new. Centuries ago wooden ships built in the small coastal town circumnavigated the globe and still today the most prestigious sailing yachts in any marina around the world has most likely been built in Jakobstad. 

We welcome you to join us on our exciting journey, as we commit to building a better world for future generations by cherishing that beautiful heritage while simultaneously embracing and adapting new sustainable tech.

The future is bright, sunny and filled with adventures.

We’d love to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you consider ordering an Elvene or just want to ask us something.

Emil Finne, CEO [email protected] +358 (0) 44 777 7269

Elvene Alholmsvägen 72 68600 Jakobstad Finland

The development of Amber has been co-funded by the European Union.

© 2024 Elvene Boats

Yachting Monthly

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Sailing with solar power: A practical guide

  • Duncan Kent
  • November 13, 2020

The latest solar technology makes self-sufficient cruising much more achievable. Duncan Kent gives the lowdown on everything you need to get your boat sorted

Solar_Paul Cleaver_Alamy


Solar power is fast becoming the most popular and economic method of keeping the batteries charged on a boat.

Particularly now that the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) panels, charge controllers and batteries is improving every day.

Furthermore, the latest technology in regulators and charge controllers has brought about a noticeable increase in useable power output, so the problems of shading and non-alignment can be compensated for more easily.

Not only has PV equipment become more efficient and cost-effective, but many of the modern devices we want to use on a boat have become less power hungry.

This means it is now far easier to provide your entire yacht’s electrical needs, both 220Vac and 12/24Vdc, from natural energy resources – particularly solar power, even if you are planning on a fully electric boat .

solar yachts

Thinking carefully about how much power you need and how much your boat can accommodate is key to planning a solar array. Credit: Graham Snook


For instance, a boat with two new, good quality, deep-cycle house batteries of 100Ah each would supply 100Ah of energy to consume between charges, if you only use the recommended 50% of available charge between each charge cycle to protect the batteries.

From this you could run:

  • a modern 12Vdc fridge (approx. 1.5Ah, or 36Ah over 24hrs),
  • all LED lighting (say 20Ah per day),
  • various small device chargers (20Ah)
  • and a number of other items such as water pumps, TVs and stereos (25Ah/day)
  • Totalling around 100Ah.
  • For this you’d need 400W of solar capacity.

Of course, if you like to run a lot of AC devices off-grid such as hair dryers, microwaves, toasters and the like, then you’re going to need a DC/ AC inverter, which will take you to another level in power consumption terms.

But even then, with careful planning, solar could provide a large portion of the power you need before resorting to engine charging or a generator.


In practical terms, a modern 40ft monohull would have the space for around 1,200W of PV panels (cockpit arch, sprayhood top, deck), maybe 1,500W with the addition of a few portable panels for use at anchor.

The 1,200W of fixed position solar array could produce around 360Ah on a sunny summer’s day (zero shading) or more likely 250Ah on the average UK summer’s day.

So that’s enough for your 100Ah general DC consumption plus another 150Ah of AC consumption via the inverter.

Of course, to do this you’ll most likely need to increase your battery capacity to around 400-500Ah for maximum flexibility (you’ll need to store as much as possible during daylight hours), a typical figure for a 40-50ft offshore cruising yacht these days.


Get your solar charging right and you may never need to hook up to shore power

Typical daily inverter loads for a cruising yacht off grid might be:

  • induction cooking plate (20min) 60Ah
  • microwave (15min) 30Ah
  • coffee maker (20mins) 25Ah
  • hair dryer (5min) 15Ah
  • laptop charger (2h) 10Ah
  • or around 140Ah in total.

The trick is to monitor the batteries’ state of charge (SOC) at all times and vary your use of the inverter to suit.

For example, you might want to cook supper mid-afternoon, when solar is in abundance, and then reheat it in the evening when you want to eat it.

In some cases, when you’re cruising in warm climates such as the Med, you might end up with excess charge from your solar panels .

In this situation, many long-term cruisers devise a method of ‘dumping’ the extra energy by heating water for showers.

Do bear in mind if you’re planning to live aboard full time , then it’ll be a whole different story on cloudy days and during the winter, when inverter use might need to be knocked on the head entirely.

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There’s often confusion as to how much power you can harvest from a solar installation.

A PV panel is nearly always advertised stating its theoretical peak output power (Pw).

But in reality, on a yacht where there are limited areas in which to mount them, they will more likely produce a maximum of 60% of their peak output if mounted horizontally, increasing to 80% if tilted towards the sun and regularly adjusted.

The latter is rarely achievable on a boat, however, as even at anchor it can swing through an arc of 180° in wind or tidal shifts .


Flexible panels can be mounted on sprayhoods or awnings to add power when it’s needed at anchor or in harbour


Having trawled through hundreds of ‘deals’ to get the best price on the most efficient panels you can afford you now need to know how to install them to best fulfill your energy generation needs.

The output, even from the highest quality photo-voltaic array, will only be as good as the installation itself.

So following our guidelines should ensure you extract every last drop of energy from your investment.


Sailing boats are not the ideal structure on which to mount wide, flat PV panels.

So before you go ahead and purchase what looks like the biggest and best, take a few minutes to decide on exactly where you can mount them, as this will affect what size and type of panels you should buy.

In many cases the first choice would be on an arch, davits or gantry aft, especially if you already have, or plan to fit one.


Dinghy davits, particularly on multihulls, can support a huge solar capacity

These allow a solid metal framework to be constructed that will be strong enough to take the heavier, more productive rigid PV panels.

You can also build in some form of adjuster to the framework that will allow the panels to be orientated towards the sun for the best performance.

With luck (or careful planning) a gantry will also keep them aft of the boom, thereby eliminating loss of output caused by boom shading.

The next most popular position for mounting the panels is on a cockpit sprayhood or bimini, although this will often mean using the flexible or semi-flexible panels, which are generally less efficient than the rigid ones for the same area.


Alternatively, there are kits available for mounting panels onto lifelines, which can allow their elevation to be manually adjusted to a certain degree.


Pole-mounted panels can be used for maximum adjustability

Finally, panels can be fitted directly onto the deck by either gluing them down using mastic or attaching them onto a rigid support frame.

Once again you will probably need to use semi-flexible panels – especially if the deck surface is curved.

Rigid, glass-coated panels will obviously not be suitable for deck mounting in an area that is frequently walked over.

Don’t be tempted to drill through the panels, even along the edges, as this will invalidate the warranty and possibly damage the panel.


With solid panels, the ability to adjust the angle can add significantly to output

It might seem obvious, but the key to an efficient system is to avoid shading wherever possible.

It’s no good fitting expensive, high-efficiency PVs right under the boom as they’ll perform little better than the cheaper types.

Saying that, in good quality panels each cell will be isolated from the next by a series of diodes (one-way electrical valves), so that if one cell is shaded at least it won’t drag down the other cells within the same panel.

Older panels often didn’t have these, so the slightest partial shading caused the output of the entire panel to cease.


Another important factor that is often ignored when installing the panels is that of overheating.

If a PV panel gets too hot, which is quite likely if mounted directly onto a flat surface without an air gap behind, its output will drop quite noticeably.

To allow for some air circulation behind the panels it’s best to apply mastic adhesive in numerous large dabs.

This is best achieved by placing wooden spacer strips between the dabs until the mastic has completely cured, after which the spacers can be removed.

You might need some form of trim around one or more of the outside edges, though, if they are positioned where sheets and other lines might get caught under them.

Raising the panels up will also help water to drain off and thereby helping to avoid possible delamination from sitting in water for too long.


A PV module cannot supply an electrical device directly due to the changeability of the sunlight, which in turns varies the current it can produce.

Therefore, it has to be connected to a battery, which stores and smooths its output.

Whatever the size of your solar array you will need to fit a regulator, or charge controller as they are now more commonly known, to the system in order to control the output and to help extract as much power from the panels as possible.

There are two types of PV charge controller.

The older designs, called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) types, were fairly basic voltage regulators and simply output volts at just above battery level.

The latest controllers use Multi Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology and can accept much higher input voltages (up to 240Vdc).

MPPT controllers can be up to 30% more efficient as they use the peak output of the panels to charge the batteries, even compensating for partial shading.


If you buy online do be careful to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

There are a huge number of fake MPPTs out there, which are simply the much cheaper PWM dressed up with fake labels.

It’s hard to tell which is which, but the old adage of ‘if it looks too good to be true, it usually is’ makes good sense.

MPPT controllers are usually bigger and heavier than PWMs, but if in doubt call or email the supplier to discuss the pros and cons of their kit before buying.

If they’re not happy to chat and advise you then I would steer clear of their gear.

Some good MPPTs are made in China, but unless they have a UK supplier, I wouldn’t bother with them as you’ll have no follow-up advice.

To calculate what size controller you need simply divide the panel’s peak power in Watts (Wp) by the battery voltage, which will give you the maximum current (Amps) they could theoretically supply.

For example 240W/12V = 20A. Although it’s unlikely you’ll ever get near the peak output from any PV panel, it’s best to go for the maximum possible.

Induction cooking

Induction cooking is now a reality on board, even without shore power

PV panels come with a short length of cable, usually around 1m long.

Some are supplied with MC4 connectors already attached but most only provide bare wires.

The latter can be easily extended using proper waterproof connections but thought must be given as to the current rating and voltage drop (usually max 3%) for the size of cable you intend to use.

If in doubt, bigger is better!

Panels can sometimes be ordered with the wiring on the back so that the cable can go straight below deck through a hole under the panel.


You may need to fit extra battery capacity if you want to run an inverter from solar charging


A commonly asked question is ‘should I wire my PV panels in series or in parallel?’

The simple answer is, if there’s any danger of frequent shading to one or more of the panels then install them in parallel.

If wired in series the shading of a single panel will drag down the output from all of the others in the same series.


Most commonly, multiple panels are wired together in parallel to a single charge controller, with diodes protecting each panel from discharging the others should one become partially shaded.

With the advent of MPPT controllers, however, there can sometimes be a benefit to wiring two or more identical panels into a series bank, thereby presenting a higher voltage to the controller.

It’s worth noting that, like batteries, wiring PV panels in series increases the voltage only – the current capacity of the array remains the same as for a single panel.

‘Where’s the benefit of wiring them in series then?’ you might ask.

Well, the higher the voltage fed into the MPPT, the more consistent it will be with its output, which could, in some cases, prove more efficient than a parallel installation with PWM controllers.

It’s also likely to be necessary if you have a 24V domestic system.


Series wiring is usually only done when the cable runs are long, as it helps negate the voltage drop caused by the resistance of the cable.

While a decent controller will have no problem handling the output from four or even five panels wired in series, it is often inappropriate for sailing yachts as shading just one of the panels will reduce the output of the entire series array.

If you need to do so in order to reduce cable runs then it’s best to split the panels between each side of the boat – a series bank on each side.

If you do this, then you would ideally fit a separate controller to each series PV bank and then connect their outputs together in parallel to the battery bank.

Note, however, that panels wired in series must all be the same types with an equal number of cells per panel.

Furthermore, the charge controller needs to be sized for the total of all panel voltages added together and the current rating of one individual panel.

Differently rated panels can be connected together in parallel but only if each panel has its own controller.

The outputs of the individual controllers can then be joined together to go to the battery bank.


Another frequently asked question is ‘Can I connect another charging source to the battery bank while the solar array is charging?’

The answer is yes.

Any decent PV controller will be protected against feedback from other charging sources.


Think carefully about where shade from mast, boom and rigging will fall. Credit: Graham Snook Photography


A frequent cause of reduced output from PV arrays is wiring that is too small.

The resistance of a wire conductor increases in direct proportion to its cross-sectional area, so go as big as is practicable for the least cable loss.

Each panel should be supplied with the correctly sized cables for its own maximum output.

But if you’re combining panels, either in parallel or in series, you will clearly need to rate the single feed cable to suit the maximum current available at theoretical peak solar output and to minimise voltage drop.

Likewise, the cable from the controller to the batteries should be sized to suit the controller’s maximum output current and protected with a fuse.

For outside it’s important to use exterior grade cable, which is double- insulated and UV-proof.


And wherever possible use compatible weatherproof connectors (usually MC4) to those found on the panels rather than cutting off the plugs and hard-wiring them.

Field- assembly MC4 plugs are available, so you don’t have to drill large holes in the decks or bulkheads when feeding the cables through.

When joining more than one panel together try to use the approved multiway connectors; not only do they keep the wiring neat and tidy, but they also offer a greater contact area than budget terminal blocks.

If you have to use screw-type connectors make sure to fit proper ferrules to the wire first to avoid any stray wires in the multistrand shorting across the terminals.

When feeding a cable from above to below deck, try to go through an upright bulkhead where possible to minimise ‘pooling’ of water around the access hole.

Also, use a proper watertight deck seal that matches the cable you’re using.

If drilling through a cored deck you need to drill a larger hole first, fill it with epoxy resin and then drill the required size hole through the epoxy to ensure no water gets into the deck core.

Ideally, the charge controller should be mounted no further than 2m from the battery bank.

If you need to go further, you’ll require larger cabling to reduce the voltage drop.

solar yachts

A generous solar array will keep you self- sufficient indefinitely. Credit: Graham Snook Photography


There is often confusion over the ‘load’ output of a charge controller (often depicted by a light bulb) and what can safely be connected to these terminals.

Rarely explained in the manual, the load terminals should be pretty much ignored in a marine installation as the output on these terminals is usually very limited (10A max).

Some attach an LED light to them to indicate the controller is operating, but all your usual electrical loads should remain connected to the batteries with the battery terminals on the controller connected directly to that battery bank via a fuse.

It is possible, though, to control a high-current switching relay in certain conditions.


Parallel installation is more resilient to shading, but a series installation will increase peak charging outputs. A combination of the two offers some of the benefit of both


Unlike most cheap PWMs, the majority of good quality MPPT charge controllers come with an alphanumeric LCD screen to let you know what is going on.

This can either be a remote display or simply one on the front of the box.

It’s obviously a lot better to have a proper numerical display than to rely on a few flashing LEDs to tell you when something’s not right.

So if your chosen controller doesn’t have one be sure to fit a battery monitor (the shunt type) into your solar circuit between the controller and the batteries.

It doesn’t have to be a very ‘smart’ monitor, just one that can display the voltage and current being supplied by the panels.

For smartphone addicts there are several wifi apps that will do the job remotely on your phone or tablet.


All good quality PV panels feature built-in diode protection between each cell to prevent a shaded cell from dragging down the productive ones.

In addition, there will be internal blocking diodes on the final output to protect the panel from polarity reversal and to ensure that the batteries can’t discharge back into the panel during the night.

The latter can be added externally, the former can’t, so check before you buy.

A fuse, rated just above the maximum current available, should be fitted between each panel and the charge controller.

Another fuse should then be installed between the charge controller’s output and the batteries.

In the case of multiple arrays, this second fuse will be rated higher than the individual panel fuses and should match the maximum current rating of the cable.

With this protection installed other charging devices can be connected in parallel at the battery, meaning the solar can be left connected even when you are hooked up to shore power and the battery charger is operating.

In some circumstances, however, this arrangement can affect the sensing of the battery by the charger, causing it to fall back into float mode.

If this becomes apparent it can be overcome by installing a manual/auto switch to disconnect the solar array when on shore power.


Check the flex of the solar panel is sufficient for your deck


A solar charge controller works by disconnecting the supply from the PV panels when the batteries are fully charged.

But for some full-time liveaboards in sunny climates that can be considered a waste, when the excess power could be put to good use – heating water, say.

This is commonly done using an inverter to supply AC power to the heating element.

Alternatively, you can now buy a 12Vdc element for your calorifier (hot water tank) and supply this directly from your battery bank.

Both of these methods would require a voltage sensitive relay (VSR) to disconnect the element should the battery voltage drop below a pre-set level.

Don’t expect boiling hot water, as there will probably only be enough spare power to take the chill off it before your battery bank reaches its lower threshold voltage.

A 600W/12V element will draw some 50A, from the batteries, whereas a 1kW AC element run through an inverter will need close to 100A.


A small, semi-flexible panel will be sufficient for keeping batteries trickle charged, but not for heavy use


Despite massive recent improvements in semi-flexible panels in recent years, the solid glass panels still offer a higher power density.

That said, they are heavier, more awkward to mount and can’t be walked on, so unless you have a dedicated gantry aft, you’re better off choosing the more rugged semi-flexibles.

Modules incorporating monocrystalline cells also have a better output than those with polycrystalline cells (that’s cells made from a single slice of silicon as opposed to layers of smaller pieces).

Output voltage also depends on the number of cells on the panel.

In the past this has commonly been 32, but now some 36 and even 40 cell panels are available.

That said, they’re larger, of course, so an array of interconnected smaller panels might be a better solution.

Module efficiency is now more often around the 20% mark, as opposed to 12-15% for older models and semi- flexible (up to 20° bend) are usually better than flexible (up to 180° bend).


A rigid panel is more efficient, but less robust

There are a huge number of panels on the market, but many use the same cells.

Sunpower Maxeon cells are exceptionally good, as are the Panasonic HIT range and LG, but they are pricey.

If the maker is offering a 25-year guarantee instead of a 3-5 year one, you can be pretty confident they’re good.

When it comes to charge controllers it’s definitely worth paying a little more for a decent MPPT.

A cheap PWM might be okay just to keep a small starter battery charged with a 30W panel, but the MPPT will give you much more when it comes to heavy service.

Victron are probably top of the range, while cheaper brands like MakeSkyBlue and EPever are also good value – but treat imports of unclear origin with care.


Duncan Kent

Duncan Kent has been evaluating and reviewing yachts and marine equipment for the past 30 years

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Aquanima 40 series

Azura marine, this $500,000 electric yacht can cross oceans on just battery and solar power.

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Singapore-based Azura Marine unveiled a new $500,000 electric yacht that they claim can complete “non-stop ocean voyages powered only by sunlight.”

The electrification of transport is slowly spreading into maritime transport.

While the focus has been commercial vehicles like ferries, it is also reaching leisure and personal vessels.

Azura Marine is the latest to enter the space with its first solar-powered catamaran yacht, the Aquanima 40 series, unveiled earlier this month in Bali, Indonesia.

The company describes the electric vessel:

“She is a unique 4 cabin, 8 guest yacht designed for extended cruising without any need for fossil fuels or refuelling stops of any nature. The Aquanima 40 solar-powered catamarans are also equipped with a 56 m2 rain catchment system, water maker and air conditioning water recovery – rendering water supply stops unnecessary too.”

Here are a few pictures of the Aquanima 40 series solar yacht:

solar yachts

Azura Marine claims that the vessel can continuously cruise thanks to its large 10 kW solar power system and 60 kWh battery pack.

Here are some of the specs of the Aquanima 40 series:

  • LOA 13,25 m
  • Draft 65 cm
  • Propulsion Power: 2 x 10 kW
  • Solar Power: 10 kW
  • Main Battery Bank Capacity: 60 kWh

The company writes about the capacity of the electric vessel:

“For the owner, this means limitless cruising with no fuel costs, no noise or vibration, no smells, no polluting emissions and no disturbance of marine life.  The electric motors are virtually maintenance-free with only a couple of low-cost bearings to be replaced at 20,000 hours (more than a typical lifetime usage of a yacht).”

Here are some pictures from inside the electric yacht:

The company lists several amenities available onboard its new electric vessel:

“The yacht offers all the comfort to be expected of a modern cruiser with air conditioning, fully equipped galley including ice maker, hob and sink.  On this version, the bathroom and toilet is on main deck for greater ease of access as this vessel is strongly oriented towards enjoying the outdoors, exploring hidden bays with the electric dinghy or diving on pristine reefs. Onboard Solar Eclipse, all water is self-produced, including fresh and drinking water, thanks to the yacht’s water-maker, air conditioning water recovery system and gigantic rain water collecting solar roof.  She features a high quality marine sound system and all round WIFI connectivity.”

Azura Marine Co-Founder and CEO Julien Mélot commented on the launch of the new electric vessel:

“it was an enormous thrill to launch the yacht last week and undertake her first few miles at sea.  The yacht met all our expectations and while the design makes for near silent operation with exceptional responsiveness, it was incredible to actually experience it  – and all in the knowledge that we were not producing any harmful pollution or emissions.  With some strong winds and a very tight to enter marina berth, we were delighted by how easy the yacht was to manoeuvre.  We simply cannot wait to take her out on her maiden voyage.”

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Aquanima 40 series

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Luxury yacht finds purpose and passion in scientific research.

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Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, provided the reason for a recent expedition to the Silver ... [+] Bank area of the Dominican Republic Marine Sanctuary. Made possible by a Yachts For Science match with Bering Yachts, with assistance from the government of the Dominican Republic, Blue Marine Foundation, Mission Blue, BOAT International, and additional nonprofits, the five day trip collected information valuable to the protection of humpback whale populations on board a private Bering yacht.

Imagine: One boat. Five days. Thirteen people. Thousands of humpback whales.

Nothing compares. Just ask Alexei Mikhailov, Founder and CEO of luxury superyacht builder Bering Yachts , who recently teamed up with Mission Blue through Yachts For Science , two nonprofits, for five days of research on humpback whales in the Silver Bank calving zone.

The Bering 92 Papillon as it prepared to carry the team to the research area of the Dominican ... [+] Republic's Silver Bank Marine Sanctuary to photo ID individual whales and collect eDNA as it was shed by passing cetaceans.

Anchoring eighty miles off the northeast shore of the Dominican Republic, the team quickly got to work as they were surrounded by humpback whales coming to Silver Bank to mate and birth calves. Learning, discovering, sharing academic as well as cultural knowledge, there was great communication among the scientists and crew.

Mikhailov described the profuse conversation and exchange of information while on board for the expedition, noting that the thirteen people represented nine different nationalities with a wealth of knowledge from previous work.

A Newfound Passion For A Sturdy Yacht

"I got first hand experience of how to be on board a yacht in collaboration with the expedition," Mikhailov said, emphasizing that "The amount of information, the density of information, the value of this information, was incredible." He added that not a moment was wasted. People eagerly shared their expertise with one another about various expeditions and research findings, along with details relating to culture and family. All that while surrounded by thousands of whales in this protected calving area was "Marvelous," Mikhailov exclaimed.

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The team of international researchers and crew aboard the Papillon for the five-day expedition to ... [+] the humpback whale breeding ground 80 miles from the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic.

Not your everyday superyacht experience, there is increasing interest in the use of superyachts as vehicles for research. Organizations like Yachts For Science specialize in matching marine research projects to superyachts, creating expeditions that explore everything from coral reefs and marine flora to whales and microalgae.

It takes a village. The long list of those who worked to make the expedition possible includes the ... [+] Government of the Dominican Republic, Mission Blue, Blue Marine Foundation, Blue Nature Alliance, Wyss Foundation, and Caribbean Cetacean Society. Bering Yachts connected through the Yachts for Science initiative, made possible by the Ocean Family Foundation, BOAT International, Nekton, EYOS, and others.

Trip From Freeport to Silver Bank A Rough One

According to Mikhailov, the first four days were a little rough as the boat left from Freeport in the Bahamas en route to the Dominican Republic, experiencing rough weather with 25 knot winds. Many on board agreed that most research boats might not be very comfortable under those conditions. Papillon , the Bering 92 the group was on, was built for just such conditions. With its steel hull and two stabilizers, Papillon made walking, cooking, sleeping, even reading, comfortable with no issues.

The Silver Bank area of the Dominican Republic Marine Sanctuary is visited by as many as 3,000 ... [+] whales each year. By contrast, the privilege of visiting the whales in the sanctuary is extended to just 500 people annually. Alexei Mikhailov, Founder and CEO of Bering Yachts is bullish on getting Bering yacht owners engaged to experience what it's like to be a part of unique scientific expeditions, offering the use of their superyachts as a research base.© MAXBELLO

DR 30-30 Pledge For Ocean Protection

The government of the Dominican Republic has committed to protect 30 percent of its ocean areas within the Exclusive Economic Zone by 2030. The protected area would include coral reefs, deep-sea corals, seamounts, whale aggregations, and a section of the deepest zone of the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico Trench. This expedition set out to photo ID individual whales and collect eDNA samples to determine which species have visited the area.

Humpback fluke as the whale completes a visit to the surface.

Mikhailov is ready to continue to partner with such expeditions in the future, hoping that his participation will encourage others, triggering a robust Caribbean effort. Bering has compiled footage for a video recording highlights of the expedition in anticipation of completing many more in additional locations from the Mediterranean to the Antarctic.

About The Boat

The Bering 92 Papillon measures 29.08 meters with a 6.74 meter beam and a 1.85 meter draft. She carries a 3.6 meter tender, ten guests, and four crew across three decks. Equipped with two Cummins QSM engines and 1220 hp, she has a range of 3500 nautical miles at cruise speed with a maximum speed of 13 knots. Five solar panels, a saloon, a formal dining and entertainment area, an aft al fresco cockpit, swim platform, wet bar with grill, jetski, and spacious crew area, Papillon is engineered and outfitted for a combination of safety and comfort.

Designed to weather the storm, Bering yachts are built to be safe and capable for both owners and passengers. Sturdy, modern designs minimize noise and vibration, reduce fuel consumption, and engage alternative energy solutions. Active participants in conservation efforts, not just for videos and marketing, but with genuine commitment, Bering is positioning itself as a steward of the environment it operates in to improve the future for a thriving marine ecosystem.

Kathleen Turner

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solar yachts

Trump Suggests Planes Can’t Fly When It’s Not Sunny

A t a campaign rally in Virginia last week, former President Donald Trump expressed concern that battery-powered airplanes wouldn’t fly in cloudy conditions. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, apparently believes that batteries of the sort that could power airplanes would be dependent on solar energy. Aviation experts agree that no airplane would be, or could be, flown that relied solely on solar power to stay airborne.

In an extended, extemporaneous aside during a speech in which he falsely claimed that the U.S. inflation rate exceeds 30 percent (it stands at 3 percent), and falsely asserted that rioters in Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis; and Seattle had been “ripping people apart and killing people” after the murder of George Floyd, Trump said, of green-energy advocates, “All they know is electric. They want electric army tanks. They want electric planes.” Trump then looked up to the sky.

“What happens if the sun isn’t shining while you’re up in the air?”

“Well, sir,” he said, in the voice of (presumably) a Biden-administration battery expert, “those—I told you there’d be problems, sir.”

At first glance, Trump appeared to be conflating solar-powered aircraft with new electric planes, a different technology altogether. A Trump-campaign spokesperson did not respond to my request for clarification.

[ Read: Joe Biden and Donald Trump have thoughts about your next car ]

Trump’s argument was refuted by flummoxed aviation experts, including James Fallows, a pilot and longtime Atlantic writer. Fallows wrote on X , “Electric planes run ON BATTERIES. His question is like asking, ‘How can you use an iPhone if it’s dark outside.’”

Fallows explained to me that some aircraft indeed have solar panels on their wings, but that the budding electric-flying business as a whole is “entirely about batteries.” Just as a Tesla can be driven at night, Fallows said, an electric plane could be flown after dark.

Donald R. Sadoway, an electrochemist and a professor emeritus at MIT who has been recognized internationally for his battery inventions, said that electric airplanes are “a long way off” yet. “I work in batteries, and I know what they’re capable of,” he said. “But the power-to-weight ratio just is not where it needs to be.”

He said, “The question of whether it’s before sunset or after sunset comes after the question of whether the batteries have the power-to-mass ratio.”

Asked what he thinks about a presidential candidate speaking about batteries this way, Sadoway laughed. “Are we talking about the scientific literacy of any candidate?” he said. “I question the scientific literacy of anybody who’s running for president.” He added: “There are so many battery posers out there who don’t know the cathode from the anode.”

Trump has long been preoccupied with questions about the use of batteries in various forms of transportation. During a speech last month, Trump went on an extended , and seemingly spontaneous, riff about the dangers of electric-powered boats.

[ Tom Nichols: Let’s talk about Trump’s gibberish ]

“What would happen if the boat sank from its weight and you’re in the boat, and you have this tremendously powerful battery, and the battery’s now underwater, and there’s a shark that’s approximately 10 yards over there?” he asked. (Trump has historically also been preoccupied with sharks.)

Last September, at an appearance in California, Trump denounced the idea of using electric-powered tanks in combat: “They’re going electric-crazy,” Trump said, apparently referring to battery-power advocates in the Biden administration. “It doesn’t work. They want an all-electric army tank. So they want an army tank that’s electric; you can’t get it recharged, it doesn’t go far enough, it doesn’t go strong enough, but they want to have electric so that we go into enemy territory. We will blast the shit out of everybody, but at least we will go in with environmentally nice equipment. Can you believe it?”

The Army, the branch of the military that deploys tanks, has no plans to use all-electric-powered tanks. The Pentagon is currently exploring the use of electric-powered “nontactical” vehicles, those not used in war-fighting, and has stated that by 2050, fielding electric-powered tactical vehicles may be possible. But for a set of obvious reasons, no combat commander would agree to deploy armored vehicles that do not possess a reliable source of power.

Still, Trump continues to describe renewable energy as dangerous. Electric automobiles have been one of Trump’s frequent targets. Trump has claimed that the Biden administration’s electric-vehicle policies would “kill” the automotive industry. At a March rally in Dayton, Ohio, Trump lambasted this “all-electric nonsense, where the cars don’t go far.” Speaking at last month’s Turning Point Action’s People’s Convention, a conservative conference in Detroit, Trump referred to the Green New Deal as the “Green New Scam,” and lamented the existence of water-saving measures in showers and dishwashers.

Trump Suggests Planes Can’t Fly When It’s Not Sunny


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